ACCRA, 30TH MARCH, 2020
As the global death toll of the COVID 19 pandemic rises to more than 35,000, there is a growing concern about the virus’s impact on the oil and gas industry and the economy as a whole. In support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Ghana’s efforts to address the threat, the Ghana Upstream Petroleum Chamber is working with companies in the sector, to take precautionary measures to avoid the spread of the virus. A full procedural protocol has been put in place by member companies to prevent and support treatment, should there be a case of an infection. Each member company and in particular the operators have implemented extensive operational policies and procedures to ensure the safety of staff and crew, prevent the transmission of the virus and make sure operations continue. The Chamber is reviewing guidance provided by the government and will work with members to strictly follow government recommendations. Anyone suspected of having an infection both offshore and onshore will be placed in immediate quarantine following the guidelines provided by the Government of Ghana and the respective company guidelines and safety measures.
Offshore travel restrictions are being observed and many expatriate staff outside the country have deferred travel until a later date. Employees who have recently travelled from high risk areas of the world, are not allowed to travel offshore, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. Those who have travelled from low risk countries are required to self-quarantine and seek medical advice if they have the symptoms.
Commenting on the situation, the CEO of the Chamber David Ampofo said, “The government has taken the lead with a host of measures including a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country and a two-week shutdown of some major cities in Ghana. Clearly no effort is being spared to reduce the rate of transmission and guarantee business continuity. The industry recognizes the urgency of the situation and is fully in support of the government’s efforts. These are essential services as we are all dependent on the need for oil and gas to continue to flow at this critical period. The operators and government are working together to ensure safety and business continuity”. As an essential service provider, the industry looks forward to being included in the list of sectors that are exempt from the current lockdown.
So far no one in the industry has tested positive for the virus and members of the Chamber are being urged to do all in their power to reduce the workforce’s risk of exposure. To support the efforts laid forward by the Government, and to protect staff, stakeholders and the communities we operate in, some companies have also implemented and activated their Emergency Response Plans and Business Continuity Plans. This means all nonessential and non-critical operational staff are working from home, or remotely.
We continue to monitor events and will work closely with government to minimize the spread of the corona virus in the oil and gas industry and the country as a whole.